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Understanding the factors associated with willingness to participate in a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected some groups more than others in the UK, and the most favourable control scenario besides face coverings, hygiene and social distancing, which could provide long-term protection, is vaccination. Development of vaccines require representation from all population groups in clinical trials, yet there have been severe under-representation among some groups, mostly ethnic minorities.1 There have been breakthroughs

in vaccine development, and research studies are testing the effectiveness of a range of other candidate vaccines to determine their safety and identify the best vaccines for different groups. Hence, there is still a need for participation in clinical trials; as such, understanding the factors that drive participation decision is essential.

Building on a previous study on public perceptions to COVID-19 vaccine trials among ethnic minority and vulnerable communities2, a survey was developed to understand the willingness to participant in COVID-19 vaccine trials. Findings from the first study were used to inform the questions asked in the survey, which intended to capture information from
a wider population across the East Midlands. This research is conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) East Midlands towards supporting the coordination of resources and intelligence related to COVID-19 vaccine studies across the UK.

The study aimed to understand the common barriers to involvement in clinical research and the factors that influenced the willingness to participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials. The survey was live from the 9 – 31 October 2020. There were 411 participants, 79% females, 19% males and the others preferred not to disclose their sex. The survey looked at COVID-19 and vaccine-related health information including long-standing health conditions, clinical vulnerability and shielding advice, previous flu vaccine uptake, confirmed COVID-19 infections, previous participation in clinical trials and willingness to participate in a COVID-19 vaccine trial. Factors that motivated participation, including concerns that discouraged participation, information needs, accessibility and suggestions to encourage participation, were explored.